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Italian legend Aldo Conterno dies

Legendary Barolo producer Aldo Conterno passed away in Monforte d’Alba in Piedmont at the age of 81.

Aldo Conterno, who played a crucial role in Barolo’s rebirth as a world-class wine, came from generations of Barolo producers.

His father was the acclaimed Barolista Giacomo Conterno, one of the denomination’s twentieth century pioneers who in 1920 began bottling the family’s Barolo Riserva, so heralding the birth of Monfortino, arguably Barolo’s most iconic wine.

In 1961, Conterno and his brother Giovanni inherited the Giacomo Conterno winery; the two brothers went their separate ways in 1969 and Aldo created his own estate, Poderi Aldo Conterno, in Bussia in Monforte d’Alba.

‘Aldo Conterno was really a great man. He made Barolo history over the last fifty years by continuing to take the reputation of this unique wine to its highest level,’ said Pietro Ratti, a Barolo producer and president of the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Roero.

One of the secrets of Conterno’s success, besides owning prime vineyards, was his open-mindedness, a quality few other Barolo producers from his generation possessed, and a trait which perhaps originated when Conterno moved to California in the 1950s to help his uncle establish a winery.

Soon after arriving however, Aldo opted to complete his mandatory Italian military service in the US Army and served during the Korean War. By the time he got out, his uncle had abandoned the winery venture and Conterno returned to Piedmont.

Aldo became known for balancing tradition with new techniques. By the 1970s, in an effort to reduce Barolo’s massive tannins, he had reduced customary fermentation times and abandoned the submerged cap method in favor of pumping over – all radical decisions at the time.

Although he allowed his sons Franco, Stefano and Giacomo to use barriques for the firm’s other wines, he insisted on large Slavonian casks for Barolo.

‘Vanilla, toast, spice and sweet tannins don’t belong in Barolo,’ he said. Aldo Conterno’s celebrated Barolos include Granbussia Riserva and single vineyard bottlings Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnello.

Written by Kerin O’Keefe

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